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Please Give Me A Wall So I Can Bang My Head Against It Again & Again

Posted Mar 06 2007 12:00am

Trying to teach someone something that they didn't learn naturally is plain hard work. And attachment is almost impossible to teach. I am trying today, with a couple of our attachment disordered kids, just to explain a simple concept -- recipricol relationships. It's something that most of us just know about because we were blessed by caregivers at birth who taught us about them.

It's the idea of give and take. It's not simply the "I'll scratch your back and you scratch mine" philosophy. It's more like the "I will scratch your back because I love you. I do not expect you to scratch mine back" philosophy that BOTH individuals have in a relationship.

In my lifetime of healthy relationships (all of which took place outside of the realm of parenting attachment disordered kids, though a few of our kids have healthy relationships with me) there is that understood idea. I love you, and therefore I give. But in healthy relationships, both people do some giving.

My little Sadie is a perfect example of someone who knows how to have a decent relationship with someone. She is 12 and at night she asks if I need a back massage. She offers to make me popcorn. If I need a favor and I don't want to have to argue for an hour, I ask Sadie.

So, when Sadie wants something, it is much easier for me to want to say yes. Can I be in the honors choir? Sure, honey, get my checkbook. Can I be in the next play? You bet.

That's not to say that I don't do these things for the other kids, but it isn't with the same feeling of joy that I have in giving to someone who gives back. Unprovoked she just started singing "I love you mom" as she was doing her chore.

But you can't teach that. You can't make someone understand that who just doesn't get it. You do it by example, year after year, and once and while you get that strange yet stupid feeling that maybe you can explain it and be understood. And so you try.

And then you realize, after the 5th hard head bang that maybe the only way to teach it is to live it and to pray hard and one day, when you least expect it, they might get it. or not. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't keep trying.

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